This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
How often we hear expressions of discontent among gardeners, and who, not seldom severely censure their fathers for having been so weak-minded as to encourage their boys to become gardeners, when so many, and by far more elevating vocations stood at their pleasure; and with a long sigh they continue - I don't know where the old man's senses were when he allowed me to become a hog-ri-culturist, which has doomed me to everlasting isolation from educated society, - yes more, made me its servant, where, had my father put me to a good school, or when he took me from school, had asked what profession I wanted to choose, I might today be somebody, whereas now I am nobody - raising weeds for an old woman; what anybody can do. What anybody can do is just where the fault lies, not with gardening alone, but with all vocations. To only be able to perform the simplest part, and that part which anybody can do, deserves no credit, and the fellow is not entitled to any marked respect from an educated person. The mechanical part of all vocations is simple.
A professor that only knew the A, B, C, and only able to count up to ten, would be in the eyes of the community just what the man is that " can only grow weeds for some old woman." An architect that can only draw the lumber to the place where a man wants a house built, and have that man strike off the space, and tell him where every board is to go, cannot look for the same respect that is shown the one that furnishes plans, estimates, stakes it off, and puts up the whole house in a twinkle of an eye. A doctor that knows no more of his profession than an old woman from the country, will live just as isolated from educated society, as the gardeners "that can only grow weeds." Every vocation has its scientific points, and depends upon development by every one that takes to it, even if it is to make it his livelihood.
A professor of mathematics does not sit in his studio waiting for some one of some other profession to furnish him with solutions of problems. The chemist does not sit in his laboratory expecting the doctors to furnish him with what his duty calls for him to do. But the gardener sits in his greenhouse, and expects the professor, the chemist, the doctor, and not seldom a preacher, to tell him all that is wonderful about plants, when by rights as much of that knowledge, if not more ought to come from him. Just as life is, as you make it, just so it is with your profession. It is not the mechanical part that commands respect, it is the intellectual part; and intelligence repels involuntarily all disrespect from the ignorant, and educated alike. Let your shoes and clothes suggest ever so much a change for better ones, if you are armed with that indomitable shield of intelligence you will control more true respect, than the one in fine clothes, lily white hands, and a latest style beaver on an empty shell.
This compels me to make the remark here, that the fault I find with our horticultural and agricultural papers is, they fail to do one thing, which they ought to consider a part of their fluty That duty is to point out the course to the young men, that they should pursue in their vocation, and hold up the fact to them, that there is more than hard work and drudgery in it; that it is a large book with many blank pages, waiting for us to fill them out, with what has not yet been discovered and revealed. Occasionally we see an article in an agricultural paper on the subject, "Why do our young men leave the farm and seek employment in our large cities?" - pointing out to them in glaring terms, how foolish they are, they should consider what a happy and healthy lot of people they "be," knowing nothing of the trials and tribulations that burden city people, and that they are the most independent class of people in the world, etc. Instead of finding out where the fault lies, they imagine one, and send an appeal to the parents. Fathers should give their boys as they grow older, some responsibility; it will make them feel more free, and inspire them with a sense of pride to do well, whatever they do.
Mothers should make home pleasant, and by way of a change, for which all young men naturally long, invite the "sisters and brothers" around, and have a little praying band in the parlor, or in any convenient building on the place; not ascertaining first if that disgusted young farmer is of praying turn of mind; if he is not, it may make farmer's life even more obnoxious. Another one in some other part of the country, probably San Francisco, knows just exactly where the fault lies, he says it is "monotony," - young men want excitement, and by the way suggest a very amusing thing which would prove a splendid nervine for young men that worked hard all day. They should start a "young men's farmer debating society," to hold meetings weekly; the coming together of all the young men (not to exclude the young ladies) of the neighborhood, would awaken new spirits, and for a time cause them to forget the hard work of the week past: it would greatly refresh them, and with renewed vigor they would "tackle" the work of the coming week; not forgetting to kindly furnish one or two interesting subjects for debate, viz., is Chinese emigration beneficial to a Christian community? Which is the mother, the hen that laid the egg, or the one that hatched it? Now such attempts to cram attachment into the young men for the farm, lasts about two months, and the Y. M. F. D. C. rolls it's eyes heavenward, and dies in solitude and bliss; and the young man hates the farm as much as ever.
As I stated before, the editors of both papers should hold up the fact to the young men that their profession demands something more besides animal power; it wants further development, and that can only be done by using the brain as well as the hands. In farming and gardening there is so much yet to learn and improve, that it cannot afford to allow any one to be idle. But this cannot be accomplished by your hands alone; the brains if you have any, must do the largest portion, the hands only execute it. The gardener and farmer should follow his profession intelligently, and it has better facilities than many vocations to make us the most intelligent people on this earth. But if we let potting a geranium and plowing up a piece of ground be the extent, and the brain only acting in accordance with the muscles, our professions will always be considered only a necessary thing, and we a harmless and useful set of fellows.